With 11:08 remaining in the second half, Jevon Carter converted on a layup. That two-point bucket put the West Virginia Mountaineers up 60-54 over the Villanova Wildcats. Things appeared to be dire for the Wildcats, the No. 1 seed in the East Region, and their quest to get back to the Final Four.
But like we’ve seen many times this season, and throughout this era of ‘Nova basketball, the Wildcats flipped the switch. For the remainder of the game, the ‘Cats went on an 36-24 run to catapult them into the Elite Eight. It is the third time since 2009 that Villanova has been in the Elite Eight, and the previous two times they picked up wins to go to the Final Four.
Jalen Brunson and Omari Spellman were integral to Villanova’s run to the Regional Final on Sunday. The former is none too surprising at all. Brunson, the Big East Player of the Year, finished with 27 points on the night. He was an efficient 8-of-15 from the field, 3-of-6 from 3-point land and 8-of-9 from the free throw line.
Spellman, meanwhile, had a spirited effort as well. The Big East Freshman of the Year spun together an 18-point effort. He was 4-of-7 from 3-point land, but his most memorable moment was at the rim. Okay, moments. He blocked a shot on one end and then raced over to slam home a HUGE follow up dunk.
Two others finished in double figures, as Mikal Bridges (16) and Eric Paschall (14) joined Brunson and Spellman among those who put up double digits. Bridges was 4-of-8 from the field and 3-of-5 from beyond the 3-point arc. He could have had 18 points, but Sagaba Konate had perhaps the block of the entire frickin’ NCAA Tournament.
Villanova shot 50 percent from the field, 54.2 percent from the 3-point arc and a deft 85.2 percent from the free throw line. They finished on a run in which they made seven of their last nine shots from the field.
For West Virginia, this marks the end of the line and the end of an era. Daxter Miles and Jevon Carter, two of the most successful Mountaineers in recent memory, saw their college basketball careers end Friday night. In their finales, Carter scored 12 points while Miles led the team with 16. They have certainly earned the respect of many in the CBB world, and they will be missed.
For the Wildcats, they must now play the waiting game. They will play either the Texas Tech Red Raiders or Purdue Boilermakers, who will play later on Saturday night. To gain entry into the Final Four, the ‘Cats will certainly have to earn it. Like WVU learned on Friday night though, and so many others before, Villanova can light it up in the blink of an eye.